The frequent changes the Education Ministry makes to school curricula share one common denominator. Each smells of the same kind of crass, shallow patriotism that glosses over any complicated issue, forcing students to swallow the same rote, sanitized version of the multifaceted, paradoxical Israeli story and silences all critical thought.
The history books have already been rewritten. The Palestinian perspective of the Nakba - which is apparently at odds with the sterile Israeli narrative offered by Dr. Zvi Zameret, chair of the ministry's Pedagogic Secretariat - has been censored, leaving only hollow praise for the state's establishment. The Oslo Accords have been erased, and Holocaust studies have been expanded to "strengthen Jewish identity," while any reference to the wider context of the rise of European fascism has been omitted.
Now the school system's main civics textbook will also be modified, because it states that "since its establishment, the State of Israel has engaged in a policy of discrimination against its Arab citizens." It seems Zameret and his staff do not understand the meaning of civics which, apart from imparting the basics of government and democracy, is meant to offer tools for understanding conflicts within society and nurturing critical thought among citizens.
But like the Institute for Zionist Strategies (where Zameret has been active ), the head of the ministry's pedagogic secretariat is trying to do away with 50 years of open, critical study of Zionism, the state's history and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Instead, students are given a patronizing version of the past, one that insults their intelligence and diminishes their ability to understand complex historical developments and identify with the society in which they live, despite its many problems.
Education Minister Gideon Sa'ar says he would never intervene in course curricula, but these changes conform snugly to his world view. Sa'ar presents himself as a liberal to whom freedom of expression is dear, but he remains convinced that students must be inculcated with "national values." In light of the indoctrination championed by his ministry, it seems he and his staff are less interested in promoting free expression than narrow-minded, isolationist nationalism.
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